April 19th, 2003

boots

The weather in this country...

I really don't understand this country's climate, and this is despite having studied a fair amount of basic meterology during my degree. On Thursday and Friday, it was glorious - sunshine, a light warm wind, a bit humid, but lovely - temperatures in the low 20s and summery. Overnight, the weather turned, and today it is lousy - grey, very very grey, and wintery. It would be merely cool (temperature around 12 degrees C, I suppose) without wind, but there is a terrible wind chill factor - it's like the wind has teeth of ice. Brrr.

We were going to go down to stay with Richard's dad, to spend some time down at the seaside, sitting on the beach and in the garden of his new house, doing not very much. Now, we are just going down to see relatives, and nothing else - I want to stay as far from the sea as possible. Of course the weather's crap - it's a British Bank Holiday weekend, which pretty much guarantees lousy weather. (There was someone in my research group studying this phenomenon.) But there really aren't many places in the world that experiences such changeable weather whilst having overall a comparatively mild climate - it's pretty much unique to this country, based on its position in the General Circulation. Which is why British people are always talking about the weather. And why we always overpack when we go on holiday - we're in the habit of taking summer and winter clothes wherever we go, even to the Mediterranean. You have to be prepared ;)
  • Current Mood
    cold cold
opinion, eye

My Sunday trading rant.

The other thing that annoys me especially at Easter is this country's pitiful compromise on Sunday trading laws, which please no one. Back when they were agreed, 10 or so years ago, the "Keep Sunday Special" campaign insisted that Sunday should not be allowed to turn into Saturday. As a result, the majority of shops (excepting only small corner shops - I'm not sure quite what the rule is) are allowed to open for 6 hours only on a Sunday (most do 11am to 5pm), and not at all on Easter Sunday or Christmas Day if it falls on a Sunday. At first, this kind of worked - but these days, even people who are churchgoers might go shopping after church - at least to somewhere like Ikea, if they don't agree with doing "regular" shopping on a Sunday. It drives me insane that bigger supermarkets are open from 8am on Monday continuously through to 10pm on Saturday, and then have to close in order to only be open for 6 hours on Sunday. You would not believe the amount of times I need something urgently at 10.30pm on a Saturday and have to make do somehow!

I still agree that no one should be forced to work on a Sunday (or indeed on a Friday or Saturday, if that is their religion's prescribed day of rest), but a lot of shops now have weekend staff who are not the same people who work during the week. Like kids (over 16) who are at school in the week and work one day to earn an allowance, or part-timers who work a couple of evenings in the week and all day at weekends. Plus, we have strict laws from the EU about working hours - in most industries, everyone must have by law at least one day per week off work. Working on Sunday is usually voluntary, employees get a day off in the week in lieu, and in some circumstances, people who work Sundays get paid at time-and-a-half. So I'm not sure the potential for staff to be abused is a valid argument anymore.

Trying to pretend that Britain is still a Christian culture is ridiculous. It may be true that the majority of people would give their religion as "C of E", but I'm sure a lot of those are actually what Richard calls "devout don't cares" - people who vaguely believe in a God, but don't really follow any religion in particular. People who are Christian by default - simply because they were taught the religion as children, and haven't found another one they like better (or haven't bothered to look). Keeping Sunday special might have worked in the 1980s, but it doesn't seem true now. So when is anyone going to have the guts to tackle this in Parliament?
blue

And while I'm talking of things British...

I have a craving for cake with custard on. It's a curiously British thing, to serve cake warm with hot, runny custard over it. Many of the cakes served in this way have names which sound highly dubious nowadays, but were perfectly innocent at the time. Like Spotted Dick, which is a cake with currants and raisins in. I expect schoolboys have been sniggering over that one for years, but it's a Traditional name that isn't inherently offensive (no racist or sexist overtones), so it must be preserved. Probably every so often a politically correct local councillor tries to come up with a new name for it which lasts about two weeks before the negative press coverage forces him to back down.

Collapse )
  • Current Mood
    hungry hungry